Fianna Fáil 'won't take any pleasure' in resignation of Joe O'Toole - Barry Cowen

Mr O'Toole yesterday announced his resignation as head of the expert commission on water

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Joe O'Toole. Image:

Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has said his party 'won't take any pleasure' from the resignation of the Joe O'Toole as the head of the expert commission on water.

The former senator and union official stepped down yesterday afternoon.

The newly appointed chair of the commission had been under fire after comments made in a number of media interviews.

He had told Newstalk Breakfast that the commission needs to find "a solution that will have enough sugar on it to make the medicine go down easily."

In a statement announcing his resignation yesterday, Mr O'Toole said: "I am comfortable with the fact that I put my views honestly and transparently on the record. It is regrettable that my straight-talking has caused difficulties for others but in that regard I am unlikely to change anytime soon."

Mr O'Toole's decision to resign followed criticism from a number of opposition politicians, including Fianna Fáil TDs.

Barry Cowen, who is the party's spokesperson on local government, told Newstalk Breakfast: "We won't take any pleasure in the fact that Joe O'Toole has decided to resign - he's a very honourable man and a committed public servant.

"But because of the fact that the position must be above reproach, fair and impartial... And when you put that beside the fact that Joe had many media interviews where he laid out his own personal views in relation to water charges, laid out his own personal views in relation to left-leaning parties and their attitudes towards water charges [...] All those comments contributed towards compromising his position," he argued.

Deputy Cowen also denied that his party is opposing water charges to make them more popular with the public.

He explained that the party indicated that the means and methods for the eventual introduction of an eventual charging regime would be explored.

However, he says they did not propose a charging regime "that comes before the upgrade and making the system fit for purpose. There was a rush on the part of Government to bring in this botched regime, and that's what it has turned out to be. It has been calamitous".